I was hesitant to review Cam because it didn’t really seem like a horror film to me. Quite honestly, I’d deem it more of a thriller than a horror film, but that’s just me. It’s a cyber cautionary tale that reminded me of Sandra Bullock in the ’90s film The Net. Director Daniel Goldhaber, in his feature debut, did an awesome job of creating psychological tension and I’m betting we’ll see more from him in the future.
In the film, Alice (Madeline Brewer) leads a double life online as a cam girl named Lola. She is on her way to the top and hopes to soon be rated a Top 10 cam girl. Alice’s character, Lola, is extreme and often preforms gory stunts for her audience, differentiating herself from her competition. Alice is business-like and focused on rising in the online ranks and does not play the character as incapable or simply being a cam girl for fast money. That’s why when she wakes up and her identity is stolen by a girl who looks exactly like her. She begins to unravel. It’s not just her identity that has been stolen, she has been completely replaced! The film’s focus here is really on the terror and pain that comes with someone else owning your carefully crafted online identity. Let’s be frank, most of us can relate to the horrifying idea of someone else stealing our online presence and what that would feel like. Imagine someone else posting as you, with the ability to completely ruin your life. In Cam, that feeling is multiplied because this is Alice’s source of income. If she is locked out, then she is also unable to work.
Cam leaves many narratives unresolved. The audience doesn’t get all of the answers it’s looking for. I’d also say Alice’s solution to her problem also seems a bit unrealistic, perhaps thrown in to make the film more… “horrific,” I guess. The film’s main focus is the tension and psychological aspect of losing one’s persona and it doesn’t really dive into technology too much, which I found odd. The film doesn’t want you to focus too much on why this has happened — that isn’t the point, really. It wants you to focus on how afraid it makes her and how she loses her real self when her persona is stolen. The film wants us all to be able to relate to just how hard it is to compete and keep your own identity amidst the crazy overly competitive and critical online jungle.
Cam is a good movie, but it wasn’t a great movie. It’s obviously low budget, but in this case, I didn’t feel that was a detriment to the film. What took away form the film was the absence of Alice figuring out how this happened to her and stopping it. It was her inability to, I don’t know, make a YouTube channel, an Instagram, whatever to point out to fans exactly what happened. Sure, losing your online identity is frightening, but most people have several places they can be found online. The film just didn’t go far enough for me to be able to suspend belief. I give Cam three stars. Cam is currently streaming on Netflix.